Tahirah Yasin is a fully qualified Counsellor and Psychotherapist, a registered member of the British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) and a member of the Muslim Counsellors and Psychotherapists Network (MCAPN). Prior to becoming a psychotherapist, she had a background of working as a support worker, working with asylum seekers, refugees and victims of sexual and domestic abuse.
Please tell us about your career
I am a qualified psychotherapist and clinical supervisor. As a psychotherapist I work in several different organisations and charities. I also work in my own private practice. My approach to therapy involves developing close, collaborative relationships with my clients. I hold the clients with unconditional regard by creating safe, non-judgemental, confidential space that allows them for deep self-exploration. I use my diverse background to connect with people and I support them whatever walk of life they come from. Most importantly, those who identify themselves to be Neurodivergent can find solace that someone understands them. I have a high level of empathy, intuitive sense, and also being culturally and faith aware helps massively to connect to people too. I decided about 15 years ago to pursue counselling as a career. At the time, I was a full-time mum for 3 boys and a carer for both parents.
My journey began in exploring the inner self, as I had a desire to understand ME better and my relationships. I was always curious to why I was the way I was. Growing up I struggled at school and home, being bullied for potentially being a girl and then then being Asian too. There was something different about me - my parents labelled me as slow; teachers said I was always daydreaming and not focusing. I liked school but I wasn’t keen on the learning, there were some subjects that just didn’t make sense to me. I was desperate to be like the others so I continually worked myself so that I could achieve like them. My evening was spent doing extra work, learning spelling, and going over work just to make it perfect.
I came from a working class British Pakistani background, whose parents were not literate. I was not expected to even go to university. I was to have a basic education and was told that was it at the age of 16. I begged my parents to let me study, to go to college. There was battle between my parents and I - they were adamant to keep at home, teach me how to sew clothes and sit at home. This was not the life I had envisioned for myself; I wanted to study and work like others. Be like all the other girls and women out there. I always had lots of part time jobs - I just wanted to be busy, and most importantly, I wanted to be free and independent. I kept telling myself, just keep going, try harder - you’re not gifted or exceptional, but pure grit and determination means you will succeed. I watched other successful people and modelled or mirrored their behaviours. I put them on pedestals and almost lived in awe of their achievements.
It’s been a life of many challenges - having an arranged marriage, raising 3 boys, looking after parents with cancer and trying to hold a job, and study without the support or encouragement of family. Added to this was a taboo of studying as an older Asian woman - my place should be at home looking after my kids and family. I would go to my graduations alone and receive my certificates.
I am proud of my achievements. For the future, I want to be an inspiration for other women. I would love to share my journey of being Neurodivergent and succeeding. I want to share that anything is possible. I want to empower others. I am working on a project that will help other Neurodivergent women regardless of race and colour. I want to be the one that helps change happen. I always say if I can, anyone can, it’s finding one’s potential and chasing it until the purpose is found.
How has being Neurodivergent shaped the direction of your career?
I only realised I was Neurodivergent at the age of 40. At the age of 40, I had a suspicion that maybe I had dyslexia, but I did not know much about it, so I kept researching, I kept digging deeper to find out what was it that was different about me. I was diagnosed, however I realised there was more to the dyslexia - there was also dyspraxia and traits of ADHD. Throughout my life I struggled to find out why I was the way I was. I have been working from the age of 16, doing a plethora of jobs from cashier jobs to working in insurance to working in beauty. Looking back in hindsight, I think I have made the right choice in choosing this career.
Working as a therapist, I can hold my clients in a safe container, and from my own self-discovery there have been many epiphany moments. The fact that I can self-evaluate gives me the ability to help others too. The quirks and the eccentrics that I tried to hide I now learnt were a great part of my specialised, unique neurology. It has helped massively to others and to embrace them for myself too.
Do you feel that your career is a good fit for an Neurodivergent woman?
What advice would you give to another Neurodivergent woman navigating their way through life?
I would say follow your gut, it's never too late to know yourself, listen to the little voice telling you that you can, only if you keep going. Where there is a will, there is a way and anything is possible. It's all about self belief and knowing that success is really around the corner. Never let anyone dim your light, that is your light for a reason. I am from a Pakistani British background, I was repeatedly told English was my barrier, although I was born in the UK. I knew no other language! I think self belief is massive. Never take advice from someone who has not walked in your shoes.